What Are You Teaching Your Children About Love?

Parents are their children's first role models. They're the ones from whom they'll learn what love is and what relationships should be like. So, what are you teaching your children about love?
What Are You Teaching Your Children About Love?
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Mom and Dad are the first role models in a child’s life. They learn everything from you: how to talk, how to use silverware, how to behave, and how to interpret the world. But, above all, with every little daily action, you’re teaching your children about love. You’re the living example of what human relationships are all about and what they should be like.

The way you address them and the way you relate to your partner are forming the concept of love in their minds. These first ideas will take deep root and guide your children in their future relationships.

So, you should make sure that the information you’re passing on to them is what you want it to be.

All your daily actions count

The job of being a mother is so full-on that it seems almost impossible to watch everything we say and do. If we were parents for only a few hours a day, it would be a lot easier to remember and put into practice everything that we should.

What Are You Teaching Your Children About Love?

But being a mother never stops! You’re a mother on weekdays and holidays, during the day and at night, when you’re tired and when you’re sick. Each of your daily actions has an important impact, as they’ll all be lessons and an example for your children. That’s why, as exhausting as it may be, we have to act conscientiously and not on impulse.

Quite often, after yelling at or punishing your child, you may have heard yourself saying: “I do it because I love you.” In the same way, you assure them that you love their father, but then they see both of you having a lack of respect towards each other, even shouting, accusing or exchanging insults.

Or perhaps you ignore each other, acting as cold as ice, and creating a tense atmosphere in the home where silence may reign for days at a time.

What are you teaching your children about love?

All these contradictory messages contribute to what you’re teaching your children about love. If children grow up seeing aggressive behavior and insults in the home, then they’ll assume that this is part of love.

As a result of that, they may put up with abuse from those who say they love them. Or maybe they’ll attack the ones they say they love when they don’t act the way they want them to.

As your children grow up, they may start making harmful, toxic friendships. Maybe their “friends” will treat them badly or pick on them. Maybe their first love will shout at them, ignore them, or humiliate him. And then, with all the pain you feel when you see your child suffer, you may wonder how on earth they stay with people who treat them this way.

However, the fact of the matter is that, since they were a child, they’ll have seen that this behavior is “normal.” They’ll have seen how their two main role models in love shouted at each other or said hurtful words to each other.

They’ll have experienced firsthand how the people who love them the most have humiliated them or downplayed their feelings. And now they’re simply imitating what they learned about love.

Watch the example you give

So, if you want healthy relationships and a happy life for your children, make sure you build a correct concept of love. One that’s based on respect, understanding, and patience. A love in which there’s no room for violence, indifference, or humiliation.

What Are You Teaching Your Children About Love?

To achieve this, maybe you need to take a look at your own beliefs and attitudes, and open them up to healing. Perhaps you also received a wrong concept of love when you were a child. However, you’re now wholly responsible for what you pass on to your children. So, make the effort to reflect before you act and change all this harmful behavior.

Treat your children with respect and unconditional love. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes and apologize when you’ve failed. But, above all, never resort to aggressive behavior or humiliation. These practices have no educational value and can cause serious consequences.

In the same way, be careful how you relate to your partner. Learn to be assertive, respectful, and communicative. Insults, shouting, or indifference have no place in a relationship. And even less so when there are children watching what’s going on.

Be a team, make decisions together, and respect and support each other. Don’t be afraid to express your affection. You’re the best way to ensure that your children have great relationships. Be careful you don’t set the wrong example.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.